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Margaret Weigers Vitullo, ASA Academic and Professional Affairs Program
A goal of the ASA is to make it easier for its members to demonstrate their pedagogical skills for promotion, tenure, or job applications. This goal is more fully realized with a new member benefit, which makes it now possible for any ASA member to submit a teaching resource to TRAILS: the Teaching Resources and Innovation Library for Sociology, even if they are not a subscriber. As administrators, accreditors, and parents increasingly focus on student learning outcomes, job candidates and faculty are less likely to receive the benefit of the doubt regarding their teaching effectiveness. They will need proof.
Jay Howard, Dean of Arts and Sciences at Butler University, sees publishing in TRAILS as a way for job candidates to move beyond asserting teaching skill. “When institutions like Butler University, which prides itself on excellence in teaching, hire new faculty members we look for candidates who have found ways to demonstrate that they go above and beyond to promote student learning. The best candidates are those who have made their teaching excellence and their commitment to student learning extend beyond the four walls of their classroom. Publishing in TRAILS is a wonderful example of how to do that. Scholars who publish in TRAILS are not only committed to their own students’ learning but also to helping others’ students learn as well.”
This view was echoed by Diane Pike, former Chair of Sociology at Augsburg College, who commented on the demands placed on assistant professors in her department. “We ask a lot of new hires, especially in the area of teaching. Early career candidates who demonstrate that they understand that scholarly teaching at its best is a collaborative and constructive endeavor would do well to offer their involvement in TRAILS as an indicator of their approach to their teaching practice.”
This new benefit will also make it possible for retired members of the ASA, who may have little or no need to download new teaching materials, to nonetheless submit their own resources for publication—resources that reflect decades of teaching and research experience. This provides an opportunity for retired members to help enliven and continue the teaching and learning of sociology, connecting their research scholarship to their teaching scholarship through rich pedagogical resources that might not otherwise be available to the discipline. This new benefit also provides emeritus members with a way to both retain and share their teaching materials without having to hold on to personal files.
To submit a resource to TRAILS, go to trails.asanet.org and click on the “Resource Submission Instructions” tab to see a printable set of instructions, the TRAILS acceptance criteria, a handout on best practices in the scholarship of teaching and learning, and the TRAILS author agreement. Then click on the “Resource Submission Wizard” button. At that point, authors will need to log in with their ASA ID and password (included in each issue of the ASA Member News and Notes e-newsletter or contact the ASA membership department at firstname.lastname@example.org). Help with submissions is available on the TRAILS website itself or by contacting the ASA Academic and Professional Affairs Program at email@example.com or (202) 383-9005 x318.
The American Sociological Association is seeking volunteers to serve as the inaugural editor of TRAILS. The editor of this curated library of web-based teaching materials will have a three-year term and will be responsible for working to expand the range, quantity, and quality of teaching resources in the library; further developing the TRAILS peer-review process; and providing leadership to the library staff, area editors, and contributors. Full information on how to apply was published in the February issue of Footnotes, available online, and can also be found on the ASA website (www.asanet.org) by clicking “Teaching and Learning” and then clicking on “TRAILS” in the drop down menu. Deadline for applications is March 30, 2012.